Bothwell Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Bothwell Castle

Blantyreferme, Scotland, United Kingdom

Bothwell Castle is a ruined medieval stronghold near Glasgow which played a role in the Wars of Independence.

Lily Johnson

25 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle is a stunning ruined medieval stronghold near Glasgow, that once bore witness to much conflict during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Today its atmospheric ruins may be explored, and are some of the most celebrated of their kind in Scotland.

Bothwell Castle history

Begun in around 1242 by the aristocratic Moray family, Bothwell Castle was intended to be a large and imposing fort, with its main tower or ‘donjon’ offering a glimpse into their initial vision. Construction of Bothwell Castle had to be ceased in the late 13th century however, likely due to the impending Wars of Independence which broke out in 1296.

It was thus never completed, yet despite its unfinished state Bothwell Castle was often at the centre of the conflict. Suffering numerous sieges, Bothwell was taken by each of the opposing sides several times. The most famous of these occurred in 1301, when Edward I laid siege to Bothwell with a force of almost 7,000, and eventually succeeded in taking the castle.

Following the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, a number of English nobles fled to Bothwell Castle however when Walter fitz Gilbert – the Scottish nobleman charged with holding Bothwell for the English – changed sides, they were imprisoned and the castle turned over to the Scots. In the following decades Bothwell again would pass between the Scottish and English forces, and was often ruined in the process

In 1362, Bothwell Castle passed to the aristocratic Black Douglas family by marriage, and a large rebuilding programme was begun. Whilst not strictly adhering to the structure of the Morays’ castle, the new Bothwell Castle was still formidable and parts of it – notably its chapel – can still be seen today.

Bothwell Castle today

Today, Bothwell Castle is managed by Historic Environment Scotland, and visitors can explore its imposing ruins. The Moray’s 13th century ‘donjon’ still stands today, while in the prison tower the castle’s eery medieval cells can be viewed, offering a glimpse into what life may have been like for those imprisoned within Bothwell’s walls.

The 14th century Chapel also survives from the days of the Black Douglas family along with their eminent great hall, undoubtedly once a hub of festivity. The surrounding area too provides a picturesque visit, with the River Clyde and a semi-natural woodland adjacent to the site.

Getting to Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle is located in Uddington, near Glasgow just off the B7071, and there is parking at the site. The nearest train station is Uddington, a 25-minute walk away, while the nearest bus stop is Church Street, an 18-minute walk away.

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